8 days

Best of Northern Spain

Best of Northern Spain

Santiago de Compostela - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cathedral and beyond

Picos de Europa National Park

Guggenheim Museum

Bilbao - the Biscay capital of Basque country

Asturias' coastal towns

Trip rating
  • Lush forests, Celtic folklore, dramatic coastlines, a pilgrim’s journey – this is a Spain full of surprises.


    Day 1 - Bilbao

    Your trip starts today with your arrival in Bilbao, the Biscay capital of the Basque country. Bilbao has much to offer including historic monuments, theatres and galleries. There are no activities planned today so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to the joining hotel (details are in your travel documents). Our hotel is located 3 kilometres out of town on the slopes of Mount Artxanda, with great views over the city of Bilbao. In the evening we meet our tour leader and our fellow travelling companions at a Welcome Meeting at 6pm (you will be advised as to the exact time and place in a notice, located near the reception at our hotel). Our tour leader will give us a briefing on what lies ahead on our tour before heading out for a group welcome dinner. 

    Hotel Artetxe or similar

    Day 2 - Bilbao - Santillana del Mar - Comillas - San Vicente - Picos de Europa - Cosgaya

    After breakfast we transfer to the city centre for a visit to the Guggenheim Museum, where you will be given an audio guide to help you as you view the artworks. We then embark on a guided tour of the interior and exterior of this incredible building and earn more about this architectural gem designed by Frank Gehry. It is a spectacular structure made of titanium, glass and limestone and was considered the most important building of its time. This modern museum building is a fine example of revolutionary 20th century architecture and is an important landmark in this city. The exhibition is unique with the use of space, light, colour and titanium elements. From its inauguration in 1997, the museum has acquired a range of art from the mid 20th century to present day. The collection includes an array of singular examples and signature pieces by top post-war and contemporary artists. There is also a collection of modern and contemporary works by Basque and Spanish artists reflecting the cultural heritage of the area. Afterwards we take a walk along the banks of the Nervión River to Bilbao's old quarter, known as ‘Siete Calles’ (Seven Streets) - the perfect place to sample some of famous Basque cuisine. There is free time for lunch and our guide will be able to offer suggestions on some local dishes to try. After lunch, we drive towards the Picos de Europa National Park, stopping en route to discover Santillana del Mar and the perfect replica of the world-famous prehistoric cave in Altamira. We pass by the fishing villages of Comillas, with Gaudí's ‘Capricho’, and San Vicente de la Barquera before we reach our hotel in Cosgaya - our base for the next two nights. Our hotel, built from stone and wood, is a typical example of local architecture of the area.

    Hotel Cosgaya or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 3 - Fuente Dé - Potes - Cosgaya

    After breakfast, we journey to Fuente Dé at the top of Picos de Europa. Covering some 647 square kilometres, Picos de Europa is Spain's second largest national park and spans across the three provinces of Asturias, Cantabria and Leon. The park is made up of the three large massifs - Andara, Urrielles and Cornión. The geological formations that we see are caused by the glacial erosion in the limestone massifs that form the Cantabrian Mountains. From Fuente De, there is the option to enjoy the impressive mountain scenery by cable car. We further explore the natural beauty of Picos de Europa National Park on an interesting walk (2-3 hours). In the afternoon we visit the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana. This Roman Catholic monastery founded before the 6th century to house a venerated piece of the Lignum Crucis (the largest known piece of the ‘true cross’ upon which Jesus Christ was crucified on). The relic was bought there in the 7th century by Saint Toribio to protect it from possible invasion by the Moors. We then visit the picturesque mountain village of Potes. Brimming with centuries of history, the quaint old town is a tapestry of bridges, narrow winding streets and splendid old houses. We then transfer back to the comfort of our hotel in Cosgaya and have a free evening to relax and unwind after a full day of activity. This evening you may choose to dine in the hotel restaurant, which offers wonderful cuisine produced from local produce, or venture out to another local restaurant in the town.

    Hotel Cosgaya or similar

    Day 4 - Arenas de Cabrales - Covandonga - Cangas - Oviedo

    Today we journey to Oviedo. Along the way we pass the charming hillside town of Arenas de Cabrales, where there is the opportunity to taste the famous Cabrales cheese. A natural blue cheese produced by rural farmers using a traditional artisan method, the cheese is matured for up to six months in the natural caves of the area's limestone mountains. Leaving the mountains behind we head down to the Cangas de Onís area, where we explore the sanctuary of Covadonga – an impressive holy cave built into the rock. Continuing on the road to Covadonga we visit the two glacial lakes of Ercina and Enol, which were the original crater of Picos de Europa National Park. We then travel on to Cangas de Onís and view its historic Roman bridge. We have some free time here to wander around the town and explore before continuing on to the capital of Asturias - the classy city of Oviedo. Upon arrival in Oviedo, we have free time to explore the town and for those who wish, there is the option to walk to a typical ‘asturian sidrería’ (cider house) to enjoy a special dinner.

    Hotel Fruela or similar

    Day 5 - Oviedo - Luanco - Cabo de Peñas - Cudillero - Luarca

    This morning we enjoy a guided walk around old Oviedo with its many fine monuments including San Salvador Cathedral - an impressive Gothic structure built between the 14th and 16th centuries. On the outskirts we have the chance to see a sample of Asturian art in Santa María del Naranco. We then visit the charming village of Luanco followed by the dramatic and rugged cliffs of Cabo de Peñas, home to an impressive lighthouse built in 1852, before enjoying a visit to the old city of Avilés. This lovely hamlet possesses one of the Asturias most attractive old towns with a wealth of historical architecture dating back centuries. It's then on to the small and colourful town of Cudillero. Arguably the prettiest coastal village in northern Spain, Cudillero is an old fishing port which sits on the side of a mountain. The port is surrounded by brightly coloured hanging houses, perched on steep cliffs. After our visit of Cudillero we drive on to the fishing village of Luarca - our base for the evening.

    Hotel La Colmena or similar

    Day 6 - Camino Primitivo - Castro of Viladonga - Lugo - Santiago de Compostela

    After breakfast we travel along the green Asturian landscape to the village of Pola de Allande. We then have the opportunity to walk a few kilometres (4 maximum) of the Camino de Santiago along the 'Camino Primitivo' Route (the Primitive Route), which was founded by Alfonso II in the 9th century. We then travel across the Galician border, passing the town of Fonsagrada, and walk around the Castro of Viladonga (a celtic fortified settlement) before finally reaching Lugo.  With its impressive Roman city walls that span over 2 kilometres and are as high as 10 to 15 metres in parts and ringed by 71 towers, Lugo's walls are considered the most intact and best example of their kind in all of Europe. Dating back to the 3rd century, these walls are UNESCO World Heritage listed. A climb to the top of the walls takes us on a circular walk around the city. We leave Lugo and transfer to the charming city of Santiago de Compostela, our base for the next two nights. The balance of the day and evening are free to explore and make your own discoveries.

    Hotel Bonaval or similar

    Day 7 - Santiago de Compostela

    This morning we discover the secrets of beautiful Santiago de Compostela on a guided walking tour that includes a visit to the lively local market. There will be free time to also wander through the magnificent Santiago Cathedral – finishing point for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to absorb the both the culinary and the visual charms of this medieval masterpiece city. This evening we bid farewell to newfound friends at a farewell dinner in a lively local restaurant.

    Hotel Bonaval or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 8 - Santiago de Compostela

    Our tour ends this morning after breakfast in Santiago de Compostela. For those wishing to spend more time in Santiago de Compostela, additional accommodation can be booked - please enquire at the time of booking this tour. Santiago is well serviced by bus, train and air connections to gateway destinations in Spain, including Barcelona and Madrid.

  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader.
    • Visit to the Guggenheim Museum
    • Explore the natural beauty of Picos de Europa National Park by foot
    • Walk some of the Camino de Santiago along the 'Camino Primitivo' Route
    • Guided walk of Santiago de Compostela
    • Gratuities for essential services in tour package

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Arrival and departure transfers
    • Departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Travel insurance (compulsory on all trips)
    • Meals (where not listed as included in the itinerary)
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Gratuities for tour leader
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

  • From our Blog

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    Europe on two wheels: the Old Continent's best cycling spots

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    Our picks: Hotspots for 2013

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    We asked the question on Facebook, and got an overwhelming response. So we thought we'd lay it out for you here, and let you weigh up some of the...

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PEGS
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Bilbao
End City: Santiago de Compostela
Style: Small Group

What to know

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

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